The Wine Ratings Business…Is a Business?

It’s been reported over recent days that Jay Miller from the Wine Advocate charges wineries a fee in order for him to visit the winery and review their wines. (Key shock and disbelief). A group in Spain has published a list of preparation needs for Miller’s visit to a select number of wineries. Preparation ‘needs’ include a 200 – 300 euro fee per wine tasted and a 1,000 euro fee for each visit to a single winery.

While many in the wine world may act like this is a shock and failure to the wine rating system, it should not be that surprising. After all the wine ratings business, has become well a big business. And who’s to blame? Me, you, the wineries…but mainly me and you. As retailers and consumers, we’ve become reliant on letting someone else tell us what’s good and bad in a wine. There are wines that are sold everyday (thousands of them) based on a rating from someone like Miller or Wine Spectator alone. It’s not uncommon that a purchaser may not even know who the producer is of wine, where its from, or even what’s in it! Unfortunately, some wineries and retailers have taken notice of that trend and have maybe even adjusted the flavor or structure of their wine in search of a better score. And so has increased the power of the wine critic.

But for those of us who search out wineries for ourselves, form our own opinions (and maybe even yes use the ratings and critic reviews as a resource to help develop those opinions), the news of Miller’s fees and ultimately him stepping down from The Wine Advocate doesn’t come us a shock. Wine is a business of passion, but it is still a business. Fees will be paid, advertisements will be placed, and lots of us (myself included) will go on selling wine and (shock and disgust!) may even make a profit.

*Sidenote: In terms of The Wine Advocate, they pride themselves on being one of the most ethic journalistic sources in the business, and this is something that we have found very true on behalf on their staff. A link to their entire ethics policy can be found here.*


Posted on December 7, 2011, in Wine and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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